We are regular Fred. Olsen cruisers and this was one of the best experiences we’ve had with them. Let’s get the negative out of the way first – charter flights with Monarch are never good news! So little leg room. We had a late flight, arriving at the Braemar in Tenerife at about 9.00 p.m., and we had to load our own luggage onto the coach and off at the other end. Not a good start. Our late flight home was much better handled. We were checked in on board by Fred’s and cases were taken from the ship directly to the plane. We were allowed to stay on board until 4.15 p.m. but still did not arrive at Gatwick till about 2.00 a.m.
Now the cruise itself. Food was superb, always plenty of choice, hot and the waiter service in the main restaurant was brilliant too. Bar service could be slow at times, especially in the Neptune Lounge, but not really a problem. Our inclusive drinks package worked well and the wine served with dinners was topped up without asking and was of an acceptable quality. As always the staff members were incredible, so friendly and helpful. We really did feel like friends rather than customers. There were always plenty of sun beds available, and the pools were hot not warm. Entertainment was good given the limitations of a small ship, the resident production company were excellent as was comedian Micky Zany, who we’ve seen several times before but he still had everyone laughing.
Shore tours worked well, especially in Dakar and Banjul, although not cheap. You really do need to book tours in these places to avoid hassle and begging. Cape Verde Islands were fine for independent travellers. However the person who gave the shore talks on board was so boring we could not listen. This really should be a task for someone who can inspire!